WITH A SMITHSONIAN-AFFILIATED SPACE HISTORY MUSUEM, the oldest zoo in the Southwest, and flourishing pistachio farms and wineries, Alamogordo makes an activity-filled home base for a trip to nearby White Sands National Park. “No matter when you visit, you’re going to see things you can’t see anywhere else in the world,” says Alamogordo spokesperson Michelle Brideaux. Here are five can’t-miss stops.
Lift off. Discover New Mexico’s exciting role in the development of the U.S. space program at the New Mexico Museum of Space History. Through spaceflight artifacts, an International Space Hall of Fame, and the Spitz Sci-dome, featuring a 4K full-dome planetarium and theater projection system, the museum takes you on a fantastic journey through the Space Age.
Go wild. Founded in 1898 along with the city, the Alameda Park Zoo began as a deer park to entertain travelers as their trains refueled. Now the 12-acre zoo showcases 300 animals representing more than 50 species, including marmosets, kangaroos, and a dromedary camel named Gabe.
Get crackin’. Alamogordo’s arid climate provides a fertile environment for grapes and pistachios. Get the inside dirt on Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wines’ operation with a walking tour, then reward yourself with a glass of award-winning Malvasia Bianca. PistachioLand’s motorized tour through the orchards and vineyards highlights growing and harvesting the crops as well as the 30-foot-tall World’s Largest Pistachio sculpture. You can’t miss it.
Step back in time. For a taste of life in territorial New Mexico, visit the restored 19th-century ranch house of Oliver Milton Lee (1865–1941), a prominent settler, legislator, and namesake of Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. Located at the foot of the Sacramento Mountains, the 640-acre park features opportunities to hike, camp, picnic, and view wildlife.
Take a spin. Founded by eccentric Rhode Island scion Rowland Hazard III in 1930, La Luz Pottery produced some of America’s most coveted pottery and tiles before closing in 1949. The Tularosa Basin Historical Society offers tours of the 235-acre property and buildings.
Nights at White Sands
Evenings are a magical time to visit White Sands National Park.
On full-moon nights, the park stays open late, and you can enjoy live music in a natural amphitheater, from May through October.
Walk the gypsum dunes beneath a silvery moon on the night before the full moon, April through October.
Take a ranger-guided sunset stroll offered daily, and learn about the park’s plants, animals, and geology.